Skip to main content

The Last of the Angry Penguins - John Perceval, 1999

Thomas de Kessler

ink, coloured pencil, gouache, crayon and fibre-tipped pen on double layer mount board with gold coloured ink border (mount: 17.5 cm x 15.0 cm, sheet: 14.0 cm x 11.6 cm)
Image not available (NC)

John Perceval AO (1923-2000) was a painter and ceramic artist. Early on, along with Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, he was part of a loose group of largely self-taught Australian artists, now known as the Angry Penguins, who rebelled against the conservatism of the art establishment. In the 1940s he went to work as a potter and sculptor with the Boyd family at Murrumbeena. He married Mary Boyd, younger sister of Arthur, and three of their four children became painters. Joint winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape art in 1960, Perceval remains known as one of the leading Australian landscape painters of the 1950s and 1960s. His ceramic work from the same period includes a celebrated series of representations of angels. In the 1980s his long-term alcoholism saw Perceval consigned to a psychiatric hospital. During his time there his old 'comrades of the canvas' would take him out painting, paying for his materials and models. By 1988 he had moved to an elderly persons' hostel in Kew, and was able to show some new work at a South Yarra gallery. The National Gallery of Victoria held a large retrospective of his work in 1990. Before he died, his painting Scudding Swans 1959 set the record for the highest price for a painting by a living Australian artist.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Thomas de Kessler 2001

Accession number: 2003.162

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Thomas de Kessler (age 74 in 1999)

John Perceval AO (age 76 in 1999)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Thomas de Kessler (2 portraits)

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.